Five Things I Learned When Writing a Young Adult Book

curseofthesilverpharoah_smallRecently, The Curse of the Silver Pharaoh went live on Amazon, print editions premiering this week at the Maryland Renaissance Festival, provided we get no unforeseen whammies from CreateSpace. (Thanks, Hurricane Matthew!) Silver Pharaoh is not my first novel, nor is it my first foray into steampunk, as many of you know. The thing about this book that has me fidgeting nervously as reviews start to trickle in is that Silver Pharaoh is my first step into the realm of Young Adult fiction.

And that terrifies me. Greatly.

I’ve got a lot of feelings about Y.A. Fiction, one being that those reading Y.A. are not necessarily “young” adults. Think about it—while Harry Potter could be easily dismissed as a “kid’s book” and is found in the Children’s sections of bookstores and libraries everywhere, just as many adults devoured the adventures of the Boy Who Lived just as ravenously as its target audience.

So, yeah, working in the wild and woolly world of Y.A. for the first time, I picked up a few things… Continue reading

Remembering Alan Rickman

Alan-Rickman-zv-alan-rickman-6916293-1280-1024I honestly have no words.

No, wait. I do.

Fuck cancer.

I am still processing the life and death of David Bowie, and then this morning I saw it pop up on Facebook. I was trying to confirm it before I said anything to Pip, but then it downed on me: the news was just breaking. Alan Rickman, star of stage and screen, had died of cancer at 69. Identical to David Bowie.

I’m going to say it again. Fuck cancer. (#becausePGH)

I’ve been a fan of Alan Rickman’s work for decades. He raised the bar for villains in Die Hard, and sure, that’s what everyone knows him best for; but I still recall watching him in Sense and Sensibility and thinking, “This is Hans Gruber…and this time, he’s totally stealing this movie!” As I recall, Sense and Sensibility was marketed more as a vehicle for Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant. The movie also gave Kate Winslet a lovely introduction to American audiences. It was Rickman’s Colonel Christopher Brandon, though, that completely won over hearts everywhere. Any movie Rickman appeared in could be promised at least one solid performance; and when you read his biography and see the amount of accolades he received for his work over the decades, it’s no surprise whatsoever as to why we loved him.

This is really too much. I’m at a loss.

So I’m going to let Alan Rickman speak for me… Continue reading

Much Ado About Nothing: The Brouhaha over #AmtrakResidency’s Terms of Service

bildeYou may have heard, if you’re friends with writers, that Amtrak, inspired by an exchange on Twitter, has come up with a really cool program called #AmtrakResidency where writers can catch a cross-country train (with Amtrak picking up the fare) and trek across the states while working on their next big novel. Truth be told, there is something very cool about writing while on a train. The world is your television, and seeing the country rush by you—given the atmosphere of riding the train across our majestic landscape—is nothing short of inspiring.

No, “rush by” is not the right description. From the window of your Amtrak observation desk or sleeper car, a cross-country odyssey unfolds all around you.

It all sound very poetic, which is why some crusaders of truth, justice, and “Your Content is YOURS” did a massive deep-dive into the terms of the #AmtrakResidency Program and  speculate there is trouble at mill when it comes to your content. Nuzzled within the terms of giving you, the author, free train fare in exchange for this opportunity to write, Amtrak reserves “the absolute, worldwide, and irrevocable right to use, modify, publish, publicly display, distribute, and copy the name, image, and/or likeness of Applicant and the names of any such persons identified in the Application for any purpose, including, but not limited to, advertising and marketing. (taken from #6. Grant of Rights of #AmtrakResidency Program)”

This sent some in the writing community into a right tizzy. New York Times Bestseller Diane Duanne warns on her blog “Never sell anyone world rights to any of your writing. Ever. Ever. Because who knows if that one piece of writing is the one that would have made you famous worldwide and rich beyond the dreams of avarice? Or more to the point, what if they later do something with your writing that is absolutely opposite to your intentions and which you find harmful or offensive? You’d have no recourse there either.”

She used bold AND italics. Wow. This must be serious. Continue reading